Monthly Archives: October 2013

Finding Answers is Easy

I don’t have any trouble coming up with answers. My problem is figuring out, ‘What’s the right question?’ And especially when I’m searching for the next best incremental step toward a problem too big to solve in one meeting, at which point I remind myself:

“It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little – do what you can.” ~Sydney Smith

So the face of healthcare is forever changed in America. Provider shortages are likely to mean more Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants performing primary care. Personally, I’ve had no complaints with the ARNPs that have worked on me. Dental Hygienists are already performing many tasks the used to be the Dentist’s domain. Nurse RN shortages are likely to mean more LPNs.

And we all adapt. Tele-medicine is already a huge boost to rural healthcare. The old arguments against Electronic Records are long gone. Did you know ‘The only thing that is constant is change’ dates back 2,500 years to the philosopher Heraclitus (535-475 BC). So here we go again, again.

We Started Cloud Computing in 1995

“The more things change the more they stay the same” was written by Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr in his monthly journal, Les Guêpes, in January 1849.

Having graduated with a BS in Computer Science in 1974, it’s been funny to hear old processes get re-branded into the next, greatest, gotta-get-in-on-it fad of the day.

We launched our first recruiting website in 1995, back when they’d report how many websites there were on the internet. It was pretty high tech for its time, complete with an Access database, and perfect for our high-tech recruiting company (permanent and temporary staffing). A far cry from our current healthcare eRecruiting applications.

But it was on the cloud. People all over the country had access, evaluated opportunities, interacted and ultimately found new jobs. And we had the same downtime issues that occur in current cloud computing environments. Those outages that are out of our control to prevent, and to resolve, to the point that ‘the internet is down’ became an acceptable excuse (until a new provider could be found).

So next time you’re feeling confused by all the techno-babble (ie. Web 3.0?!) take a deep breath and place your bet that it’s just another made-up term for a twist on what we’re already doing (ie. combining multiple searches and prioritizing the results).

What attributes are shared by successful Human Resource professionals?

Quality HR professionals will always be in high demand. I’ve talked with many people about shifting to a career in HR. What are the personal characteristics that you consistently see in those you admire. Those innate qualities that are prevalent in the best in your field? Common denominators that are applicable from hospitals to government, and Physicians to RN Nurses.

Then, most importantly, how would you describe it as a career coach at a high school, community college or job search support group?

  • You’re entering the people business. Listen more than talk (2 ears; 1 mouth). Not a therapist. Don’t want to be too codependent.
  • Influencing and coaching. Logical answers vs. emotional issues. An ounce of prevention vs. a pound of cure.
  • Lots of paperwork (even if it is mostly on the computer).
  • It’s a litigious society (I’ve wanted to do that too, but it’s illegal!). You can never stop learning.

What would you add (or remove)?

Generation Z Doesn’t Stand For Zombies

I confess I’m tired of reading about the latest generation’s idiosyncrasies and how I have to adapt to their needs, wants and desires. Not saying it isn’t important, but I am tired of it, and especially when there’s no consensus in the definition (Gen Z were either born in 1990-1999, or 1994-2004, or ~1995-2010). So here’s my take:

Generation Z is used to having a constant stream of information. That’s kind of obvious.

They’ve spent their life looking at a screen. I know parents who won’t let their kids have any ‘screen time’ until they do, whatever. Remember when the carrot was, ‘You can’t go outside and play until you’ve finished your chores’? My guess is ‘chores’ is as outdated as ‘dial a number’.

Gen Z have experienced a terrible recession, an ineffective federal government, and constant foreign wars. That’s a lot! But their tech savvy nature will be a great boost to businesses, and especially in healthcare with Electronic Medical Records (ie. EPIC and Cerner) and Tele-Health technologies proliferating all aspects health care. And I think (hope) they’re another step down the road to race and gender becoming inconsequential and irrelevant.

So what do they want? Same thing all of us want. Someone to actively listen and point them in the right direction. I remember telling someone I wasn’t firing them, I was allowing them to work at another company that shares their same work ethic and business approach.

What do you think?


Is it better to give a customer what they want, or create something they didn’t know they needed?

We have to do both. If we’re not responsive to our customers’ wants they’ll find someone who is. If we’re not looking ahead with an eye for building a better mousetrap we’ll eventually be left behind.

Feeling heard is always the customer’s #1 need. And I need their perspective. Is any industry more dynamic than healthcare and human resources? Hospitals need to hire and retain RN Nurses and Physical Therapists amid shortages that most people can’t imagine. Federal TELEmedicine legislation has been proposed to extend Physician and Nurse Practitioner practices to people on Medicare in any state. New York has to deal with ‘Indefinite Leave’. Washington and Colorado made recreational marijuana legal. It’ll never end.

My approach is to discuss their wants in the framework of needs, wants and desires. That’s an interesting idea. Where did it come from? What are some other features that competitors are offering? Any other legislative issues that are concerning? We can develop that; can your budget absorb the cost? What’s the most important element in this request?

Every opportunity to discuss my customers’ business needs is golden and must not be wasted. That’s where better mousetraps come from. And who wants to replace a customer when you could have kept them?

It’s as simple as caring, and active listening. The same thing any good Manager and HR professional would do with their good employees.

Volunteer where it’s needed – and appreciated!

Health Science Career Technical Educators (HSCTE) are the gateway for high school students to choose a career in healthcare. Everybody knows we’re facing a critical shortage of healthcare professionals in the coming years and decades. I don’t think anybody is doing more to combat this problem than these men and women. Being a high school teacher in our country is hard enough (I’m not gifted to do it) – and that’s without the budget cutbacks.

My experience with these unsung heroes has been nothing less than wonderful. They’ve asked nothing of me and been extremely grateful at whatever I’ve been able to offer.

Anyone in healthcare can make a difference here. Reach out (www, find a program in your area, encourage a teacher, and visit a classroom. I have to believe your employer would support your efforts to get high school students to choose a healthcare career. It’s one of those special opportunities where the effect is far greater than the effort.

Other related organizations that are also actively addressing our future healthcare workforce shortages are the Washington State Allied Health Center of Excellence and Area Health Education Centers (AHEC). Where you volunteer is not half as important as that you volunteer.

“If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.”
- Betty Reese


What’s the relationship between tolerance for mistakes and innovation?

This is a good question from one of my LinkedIn Groups. It’s something I’ve been working on.

My team grows best when each member can try their individual ideas. Some will fall flat but enough work that our group’s productivity increases, as well as morale.

As a ‘senior’ I’m wise enough to know how much I don’t know. As a Manager I’d be foolish to ignore a person’s perspective and stifle their energy and creativity.

The team debriefs the results and we discard or incorporate all or part of the new approach. The conversation itself can generate more creativity. The key is that my words and actions must fully communicate that trying something that doesn’t work is better than not trying at all.

Obviously the daily activities still need to be accomplished. Hospitals need their job advertisements to be accurate. A RN – Med Surg is not the same as a Surgical OR Nurse. But there’s a huge difference between posting a job and advertising an opportunity. And that’s an individual perspective – which means I’d better be listening to individuals’ perspectives.

When this approach is implemented successfully (which I’m still working on) the daily operations are not adversely impacted because people voluntarily contribute their time when it’s their idea.

Best Hospitals in Washington

The University of Washington Medical Center is nationally ranked in 10 specialties. Another 13 Washington hospitals are ranked with “high performing specialties” (Evergreen, Sacred Heart, Harborview, Holy Family, Virginia Mason, Stevens, Tacoma General, Northwest, Southwest, Providence Regional, Swedish Cherry Hill, Swedish First Hill, Valley Medical). [U.S. News] Kadlec Regional Medical Center is one of the few Planetree hospitals in the U.S. So I was surprised that no Washington healthcare employers made the Universum Top 100 list “The Most Attractive Employers in the U.S.” Congratulations maybe due to Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Boeing, Nordstrom and REI, but I still want to acknowledge our exceptional Washington State healthcare system.